Songs I Wish I Had Written

Question 1: What ten songs (that currently exist, of course) do you wish you had written?

Here’s another topic submitted to help me fight off writer’s block.

Hundreds of thousands of songs have been written. Many are on the radio for a while and then go away to the boneyard. Others are never noticed. But every so often a song becomes a worldwide hit. A select few are destined to become consistent favorites that folks love and remember years after their release. For different reasons and rhymes here are the ten songs I wish I had written (in random order). And if you are not familiar with some of these songs you can look them up on YouTube. Let me know if you agree with me about how great or important these songs are.

1. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana: When I first heard this game-changer in the earlier 90’s it was on MTV. I had never heard anything like it before. It was like punk but dirtier and more modern. There was so much raw grit to it. Nirvana broke all the rock band norms. They were unattractive. They looked sloppy. Their guitar parts were simple. Kurt Cobain was no rock god. Their lyrics were strange (they were not about girls and partying), the singing was not smooth, and the production was not slick. But they helped change the face of rock. They may not have been the innovators of grunge and alternative but they were the first to break upon the scene in a big way and it was with this song. So I wish that I had written the song that changed the face of rock.

2. Hey Jude by The Beatles: I knew as I was writing this that such a list would not be complete without George, Paul, John, and Ringo. Of all of their songs Hey Jude is probably the most famous. I have not met anyone, regardless of how little they know about music or The Beatles, who has not heard this song at least once. If nothing else they recognize the anthemic “na na na na NA NA NA NA” part. It’s a simple song with a simple origin. Paul wrote it for John’s son Julian (or Jules, but he changed the song title to Jude). It was a song of encouragement to a young boy seeing his parents’ marriage fall apart. I wish I had written the most recognizable Beatles song.

3. Where the Streets Have No Name by U2: The Joshua Tree, besides having a cool name, was U2’s best album in their entire catalog in my opinion. It marked a turning point in their career and I believe this record is when they officially became the greatest rock band in the world. Go ahead and Google it. I am positive that you will recognize at least the first three tracks. But it is the first track that I wish had my name in the credits. The story goes that in Ireland (or some place that Bono had in mind) that certain streets were known to be where the affluent and “good people” resided. However there were some streets where if you lived there you just had to be scum. But perhaps you were an upstanding, God-fearing, hardworking man whose lot in life was such that you had to live on one of those latter streets. It had nothing to do with your character but you would be painted in negative way for living on the wrong street. Bono, in his typical idealistic way, imagined a time and place where streets have no names. Not sure yet if that can happen this side of Heaven, but it makes for a great song. I wish I had written the first track of the greatest U2 album.

4. Down Under by Men At Work: I am sorry but this song is just fun. It’s about the singer’s touring throughout the world and how different cultures and different types of people have reacted to him when hearing the way he speaks or acts. I am not sure if any of the occurrences mentioned in the song are real or not but come on! It has a flute in it! I remember loving this song as a kid though I could barely understand a single lyric. And even later I had to look on Google to see what was meant by “a fried out combie.” I wish I had written this song about a land down under.

5. Your Love Broke Through by Keith Green: This is one of the first Keith Green songs I ever heard and I fell in love with it instantly. This is mostly because it is my story. It is about a man who was blinded and lost and without hope. He working and building the house of his life and existence…on sand. But like the apostle Paul and a million others down through history one day the light came on for this man. The voice and love of God of which he had been heretofore ignorant finally broke through the wall that divided him from his Savior. I wish I had written this song about a man awaking from a living dream to real life in Jesus Christ.

6. Dixie’s Land:Everyone recognizes this familiar tune from the 19th century. This song, credited to Daniel Decatur Emmett (though its authorship has been challenged and debated since it was written), became an anthem of the Southern Confederacy during the War Between the States.

Even if you do not recognize the name you will surely remember the fact that the first measure of “Dixie” was the tune played by the horn of Bo and Luke’s car “The General Lee” on “The Dukes of Hazzard.” I wish I had written this catchy, richly historic tune.

7. On the Brink of It All by Ever Stays Red: My readers know that I am a huge fan of the group Ever Stays Red for their neo-new wave sound and this in my opinion is their best song. It is an anthemic and emotional tune that will move you and groove you. I wish I had written this great pop neo-wave song.

8. Sweet Child o’ Mine by Guns n’ Roses: It is a little known fact that when guitarist Slash first came up with the memorable opening riff for this power ballad that he was simply noodling around and was not trying to seriously write anything. In fact he thought the riff sounded hokey and did not like it. The band however thought it was great and wanted to write a song around it. But Slash was no fan.

Unlike the originator of the tune, the music-loving world went bananas for the song and it proved to be one of Gn’R’s biggest hits. Slash is the guitarist that inspired me to play over 15 years ago. I just wish the guy would get saved. I wish I had written this Gn’R hit from their debut album “Appetite for Destruction.”

9. To Hell With the Devil by Stryper: People on both sides of the church doors did not know what to do with this Christian metal band from the 80s. They performed with big hair, loud guitars, makeup, yellow spandex and Bible-tossing antics. They looked like MTV, but their lyrics sounded like TBN.

“To Hell With the Devil” (from the album of the same name) recalled the passage in the book of Revelation which speaks of Satan being cast into the lake of fire. One can not help but get a chuckle from ironic nature of this phrase. Plus its descending metal riff makes it a great song for rocking out in arenas. For its headbanging goodness, I wish I had written this Christian metal classic.

10. Smoke On the Water by Deep Purple: If you play guitar you are probably already humming this in your head and maybe even riffing it on your air guitar. The main riff for Smoke On the Water is typically the first riff any rock guitarist learns. This was certainly the case for me.

There is nothing else particularly special about this song, which describes the catching fire of a venue where a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention concert was going on. The members of Deep Purple were present when the fire broke out. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore delivers his slick blues lead style as always. I wish I had written the song (or at least the riff) that has been the first learned by millions of rock guitarists.



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